GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a chronic condition that occurs when stomach contents wash up into the throat. Many people with GERD, also known as acid reflux disease, experience heartburn — a burning feeling in the chest behind the sternum — from the exposure of stomach acid in their esophagus.
But unlike people who have heartburn occasionally, people with GERD experience it sometimes three times a week, or on a daily basis, said Dr. Bennie Upchurch, a gastroenterologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
GERD is very common problem in the United States. An estimated 14 percent to 20 percent of adults in the United States have GERD, according to a 2005 study in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. However, researchers say distinguishing heartburn sufferers from people with GERD complicates finding precise estimates for the prevalence of GERD.
Causes & symptoms
When a person swallows, a ring-shaped muscle at the top of the stomach relaxes and loosens to allow food to pass and then closes again. This muscle is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). If the LES weakens or doesn''t have GERD.
Difficulty swallowing, dry cough, sensing a lump in the throat, hoarseness and regurgitating food or a sour taste may also indicate GERD. Obesity, pregnancy and asthma may cause or exacerbate GERD, as can smoking. Wearing tight clothes can also worsen GERD symptoms, as they can increase abdominal pressure and make it easier for liquid to come up from the stomach, he said.
Someone who gets these symptoms or heartburn more than twice each week may have GERD, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Some medications for other conditions may also worsen GERD symptoms including some sedatives, several blood pressure medications, birth control, and antidepressants.
Diagnosis & tests
If GERD goes undiagnosed and untreated, the frequent exposure of stomach acid may scar the esophagus and make it difficult to swallow or erode an open sore in the esophageal lining.
In rare cases, untreated for 1 last update 04 Jun 2020 or undertreated GERD can change the composition of the tissue in the lower esophagus into a precancerous state called Barrett''ll never share your details without your permission. In rare cases, untreated or undertreated GERD can change the composition of the tissue in the lower esophagus into a precancerous state called Barrett''ll never share your details without your permission.